AT&T deploys small cell solution in San Francisco; acquires mmWave spectrum firm

1 Feb 2017

US telecoms giant AT&T has confirmed that it has started deploying small cells using Centralised RAN (C-RAN) architecture in the city of San Francisco. The small cells will chiefly be installed on light posts and other infrastructure in the urban core of the city. The deployment, which will be replicated in other cities across the country, has been designed to densify the telco’s network and lay the groundwork for 5G and beyond. AT&T’s press release notes: ‘Storing the brains of hundreds of towers and small cells in one place lets engineers add capacity and improve efficiency for hundreds of cell sites quickly and simultaneously.’

In a parallel development AT&T has announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire San Francisco-based FiberTower Corporation, and its mmWave spectrum rights, to assist in the execution of its ‘5G Evolution’ vision. According to FiberTower, it holds ‘prime wide-area licensed millimetre band spectrum … in the 24GHz and 39GHz bands’. The company was founded in March 2014 and currently offers spectrum leases and backhaul services to wireless carriers.

Finally, AT&T has confirmed that it is in advanced discussions with power companies and others to trial its new Project AirGig initiative in at least two locations by the autumn. One location will be in the US with others to be determined in the coming months. The telco notes that it has experimented with the patented broadband-over-power lines (BPL) technology at its outdoor facility for some time with positive results. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the ‘transformative technology’ – which was developed by the telco’s AT&T Labs division – could potentially deliver low-cost, multi-Gigabit wireless internet speeds using power lines.

United States, AT&T, AT&T Communications, FiberTower Corporation